Did I Read That Right? Rates for Long-Term Care Insurance Rose 9% This Year!

Q. My wife and I like to plan ahead. Unfortunately, both of her parents and three of her aunts died of Alzheimer’s, and we want to make sure we are prepared should one of us need long-term care in the future. We are aware of the astronomical costs of long-term care and are considering LTC insurance as a way to cover it. I have heard mixed opinions about LTC insurance. Recently, I saw one of your Facebook posts about a study in the New York Times stating LTC Insurance rose 9% this year, and rates are a lot higher for women. I must not be reading it right. In your opinion, should we still consider LTC Insurance as part of our planning, or is there a better way? 

A. Statistics show that more than 70% of people age 65 or older will need long-term care sometime in their future, so you are certainly wise to plan ahead. There’s definitely a benefit for some people in purchasing long-term care insurance. However, there are certain issues to consider before you buy, including the rising costs and how long-term care insurance interacts with Medicaid.

LTC costs are rising faster than inflation, and yes, you read it right — LTC insurance premiums rose this year an average of nearly 9%, according to a new industry report by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).

Each January, AALTCI compares top-selling policies offered by major insurers to determine average rates. This year’s analysis included rates from 10 insurers. On average, for a healthy 55-year-old man, LTC insurance costs $2,075 per year for $164,000 in initial benefits, up from $1,765 last year, the report found. The average cost for a healthy, single woman of the same age is $2,411, up from $2,307. Couples generally get a discount if they buy a joint policy. A married couple, both age 60, would now pay $3,930 combined, up from $3,840, for $328,000 of initial coverage. Keep in mind that these amounts are far below the costs of long-term care, which costs $10,000- $12,000 a month in the metro DC area. At that rate, your benefits would be used up in a little more than a year.

The rates cited in the report are for new policies. Premiums for outstanding policies, particularly older ones, have been increasing as well, in part because people are living longer and insurers had underestimated the level of claims. Premiums typically will be lower if you buy when you are younger (in your 50s), rather than waiting until your 60s or 70s. Coverage not only becomes more expensive as you age but also becomes more difficult to qualify for at all, since health problems are more likely as you age.

If you are considering long-term care insurance, you should look at the pros and cons, and weigh your options. The following are some important facts you should take into consideration before purchasing a long-term care policy:

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